Eliza Steinbock
Catties and T-Selfies: On the ‘I’ and the ‘We’ in TransAnimal Cute Aesthetics
– Angelaki: Journal of Theoretical Humanities
Journal Article 2017


This article responds to the phenomenon of Internet cats becoming pervasive in Web 2.0, while at the same time digitally shared self-portraits, commonly called “selfies,” also circulate with extremely high frequency. The author tracks the efficacy of sharing selfies for trans/Two Spirit individuals such as artist Kiley May and in trans-centric hashtag campaigns. It shows that trans-animality in digital life can offer sovereign forms of subjectivity and engages response patterns that locate a trans point of regard. Further, it seeks to explain why so many different kinds of cuteness are shared in the intimate superpublics of online trans* communities. Building on classic texts in philosophical cat studies, such as from Jacques Derrida, the concept of the “inappropriate/d other,” and contemporary cuteness theories, the article argues that cute aesthetics provide a sentimental shield, can counter sexual indifference, and often enact a mode of resilience crucial for surviving in cultures that erase the existence of trans people of color.


#transgender portraiture #internet cats #selfies #cute studies #indigenous sovereignty